Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the Manor of Art

The initial wander down the hallways of The Manor of Art, filled with stains and cracks and lurid reminders, took me straight away to an exhibition I experienced years ago – seen is not quite the right word – of Ed and Nancy Kienholz. These artists used an entire hallway and its rooms for an installation: one was never really sure what came readymade and what was built in. But it all sprung from the same dank and maybe morbid ghost.

In the case of the Manor of Art at Milepost Five, a sprawling group show in which artists took over an old nursing home, perhaps the best work and form followed institutional green function. Hands down my favorite room belonged to Troy Briggs (see above), who turned a cloistered sorrow upside down.

Just a couple of weeks ago I had Lisa Radon on the air and we talked about her future role as an art writer – to serve the community, yes, but maybe also to be a critic. They are parallel universes but not necessarily the same thing. When she edged out there far enough to say I don’t like all of it, someone gets upset. A big group show means different things to different people and where we are on the personal expectation of art.

Calvin Ross Carl felt the stage (the presentation) had its limits, but when it was handled right (as witnessed in Briggs and Brennan Conoway and a few others), the context was absolutely right. In fact I wouldn’t have minded getting a bit more scared. Nick Reibel said that once art was in an institution, it was dead – but I’d say that the undeniable factor throughout this exhibition was that you could not shake off the institution no matter how “punk rock” (a term I’m having some problems with!) the participants are. That term works for Klutch though – who handled the room and the toilet (below) with his typical, well known vigor.

11 comments:

Richard Schemmerer said...

People including me are not upset because someone has a different taste in Art but a whole Artist community just got insulted they got called “a poison in the well" of the Portland Art scene
I think one should not just brush over this because it is becoming a theme amongst a few self appointed critics. Jeff, Chas and Calvin to name a few who feel they deserve a higher place in the local Art firmament.
I still remember the latest riff in the Oregonian by Chas who had the nerve to label “The Store" as toxic to Portland’s future as an art town.
Guess what Urban Art has changed the equation and the old way of doing business is going to be challenged.
All my recent shows have taken this point of view to serve as a pure obvious provocation to the established way of perception and how and what to hang.
Do you know how easy it is to put up something tiny in a room or on the ceiling? Just open any art magazine from 1990 till 2009 and you’ll see it done before and much better but that’s beside the point because I still can appreciate the effort.
It is time to stop this snobbish virus and educate the lost in the new Art maze and to not cover up this self indulging trend that doesn’t serve anyone.
“Manor of Art” never intended to be a minimalistic haven but the opposite. It is an art party that celebrates diversity, yes and Life.
I offer a solution to people who don’t like this kind of event but it won’t spell out.
I love the vibrancy of Manor of Art and Chris, John and Calvin did an outstanding job to create an environment that is educational and entertaining and I am proud to be part of it.
This is a truly unique event and the opening was the most alive Art happening in Portland ever and I’ll always remember it as such.

Eva said...

Richard, I must not have made myself clear. I enjoyed the show. In fact we're going to talk about it next week on the radio.

Richard Schemmerer said...

Hi Eva
sorry if that sounded personally
My rant is not directed at you all or any one in specific
I think different opinions are of great value
It is just an observation of a trend that I thought was worth mentioning
And I think might deserve further discussion as certain parts of our greater art community seems to feel threatened in some ways about events that don’t relate to them personally
I wondered what your take is on this
Are artist’s like myself who don’t follow traditional rules a nuisance and a damaging factor to “The Portland Art Scene” and who or what is that?

Eva said...

The events are cyclical and we measure them against whatever we’ve seen before, even when we haven’t seen it all. I wonder if when I first came on the scene, curating a messy group show called The Secret Side (Northwest Artists Workshop, 1980), there was some eye rolling over our lack of professionalism. I remember we completely disagreed with the two-sentence criticism we received – we thought we were very new and they didn’t. Their opinion lacked validity at the time because they never spent any time with the show and no one had blogs back then: the word was the verdict because it was in print. Of course the truth about newness and importance was somewhere in between. So that exhibition, just like this one, was necessary, as was the ensuing discussion. And I’ll say this Richard – at least people went to your show before they started writing about it - and at least they wrote. More virtual ink is spilled than ever, so get ready for the ride. As to you being a nuisance or a threat, look at it another way: someone may, just may be asking you to step up.

Richard Schemmerer said...

Thanks for taking the time

Those are all very good points
and this kind of conversation is always important and I hope we keep doing it until we can accept that we don't have to like everything or criticize everything

of course this is not about me personally I am just fine where I am and I might step down a little further just for the fun of it

but I know how much effort and hopes and communal spirit is put into these events just like "The secret side"
and I think this deserves to be honored
Thanks again for engaging in this
dialog

namastenancy said...

What an interesting and illuminating discussion. I tend not to review work that I don't like or realize that I have philosophical differences with. But then, there is so much that I DO like that I don't think, in my case, it makes a difference. Besides, I'm not one of the influential and/or powerful voices which has a good and a bad side. However, I have read plenty of mean-spirited and arrogant commentary; the worst seems to come from the SF Chronicle's resident art critic and few take him to task.
I do wish that there was more passionate and informed commentary in the SF art scene. But then, there are a lot of "playboys and play toys" making art in SF and there's a heck of a lot that it's impossible to take seriously. For all it's reputation, SF is not that engaged in making real art but I agree with Eve that blogging has changed the dynamics - sometimes for the better as there's more possibility for publicity and sometimes for the worse as there are far too many nasty sharks out there.

Eva said...

Hi Nancy - My impression of SF was that was a ton of stuff being made and not much criticism/writing at all. Of course just because things are made doesn't mean there's a great market - it never felt like that in SF...

namastenancy said...

Well, I maintain Chez Namaste Nancy which probably veers toward more conservative art. I now also write for the Examiner.com and cover museum and fine art shows. I am trying to get the other contributors at BAAQ to get off their duffs and write more, maybe about the more edgy or off beat stuff that doesn't appeal to me. Occasionally the Chron will run an article on the non-commercial art parts of town; today's Chron covers Valencia St. which has a lot of art spaces. But you are right about the lack of sales; San Franciscans with money for art don't spend it here and the yuppies would rather buy electronic toys than art for living.

Eva said...

Hi again Nancy - One thing about SF - plenty of arty types but it was not necessarily about painting or typical art objects. When I lived there, there was loads of perfomance... like Survival Research Lab., etc. Yet it too was heavy boys and their toys, so even though it was kind of exciting, it was exclusive.

I think that is great, that you are writing for the Examiner! ...remember when we met? You weren't sure if you should keep on writing... haha!

namastenancy said...

Oh boy - I sure remember me thinking that.

Now, you can't shut me up - a blog, an "
official" web page at the Examiner.com and a heavy contributor for BAAQ. Your point about performance is will taken. I am not interested in most performance art and dislike loud music so that's a whole area that I just can't get into. We have two SF based reviewers who do a lot of coverage of those scenes - Engineer's Daughter and Timothy Buckwalter. Frankly, I don't see the point but then, I'm not a 20 something.

Eva said...

Perhaps it was/is the social aspect of performance art that most of us like. You meet people, it's a group thing, an event. Visual art in general is more for the loner. That's why I stayed with it over everything else....